Just how good was the Ohio State offense Saturday in the team’s 52-34 win against California?
So good that a full 10 members of the offensive unit were named champions by the coaching staff for their efforts in helping produce 608 total yards of offense, the most at OSU under head coach Urban Meyer.
Team offensive player of the week Kenny Guiton – who was also named the top offensive player in the nation by the Walter Camp Football Foundation and also an honorable mention choice for the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award OPOW – led the way after throwing for 276 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for 92 more yards, a performance that gave him the sixth highest total yardage mark in school history.
He was joined among champions by running back Jordan Hall – who set career highs with 30 rushes, 168 yards and three touchdowns – along with tight end Jeff Heuerman, wideouts Corey Brown, Devin Smith, Evan Spencer and Chris Fields and offensive linemen Jack Mewhort, Marcus Hall and Taylor Decker.
"I thought our guys played very well,” said Meyer, who praised Spencer and Heuerman’s blocking efforts in the win. “We executed at a very, very high level. That was the first time (the offense has looked like what we envisioned).”
Now the question becomes what to do as the Buckeyes expect the return of two starters on the offensive side of the ball in quarterback Braxton Miller and tailback Carlos Hyde – perhaps the two most important offensive skill players on last year’s undefeated team.
Meyer said Hyde – who missed the first three games because of a suspension related to his role in a nightclub incident, for which he was not charged with any crimes, in July – will return Saturday as the Buckeyes face Florida A&M in Ohio Stadium.
“As of right now he’s back,” Meyer said of Hyde, who ran for 970 yards and 16 touchdowns last year. “He’s done a really good job. Has had a very good attitude, taken care of his business in the classroom and we are anxious to get Carlos back. (Finding touches for Hyde and Hall) is a good problem to have.”
As for the quarterback battle, Meyer dubbed starter Braxton Miller as probable for the game, noting that he didn’t think the preseason Heisman Trophy contender would sit out a second straight game with the sprained MCL that took him out of the Sept. 7 win vs. San Diego State after just seven games.
Miller, though, continues to be plagued by the ligament injury that takes away his important and prodigious ability to move laterally, allowing him to avoid defenders and turn broken plays into big gains.
Guiton – who was named the Big Ten offensive player of the week as well for his efforts vs. Cal – should still see time, though, no matter how good Miller feels by the time the Buckeyes face the Rattlers.
"Kenny Guiton has earned some time,” Meyer said. “He's done a nice job. Can you imagine being his parents right now, how cool that would be, seeing his development? If you could buy stock, you should buy stock in Kenny Guiton because what's he going to do after football some day, it's going to be really neat.”
On the defensive side of the ball, Joey Bosa – who started vs. Cal in place of the injured Adolphus Washington and made seven tackles – was named the defensive player of the week. He was joined as a champion on that side of the ball by safety Christian Bryant, who had an interception and broke up a fourth-down pass in the end zone.
Washington, meanwhile, is questionable this week as he battles back from the groin injury that took him out early vs. SDSU.
Meyer would like to see improvement from the defense, though, after it allowed more than 500 yards and 30 points to a high-octane Bears attack. While Ryan Shazier picked up Big Ten defensive player of the week honors after making 12 tackles and a sack, Meyer pointed to some missed tackles by Shazier as a reason for a handful of Cal big plays.
“I thought Ryan Shazier had four or five missed tackles,” Meyer said. “And the thing that I always look at is effort. If there's an effort issue, which I felt like at one time last year, there was a bad one, and I don't believe there's an effort issue. Matter of fact, I thought our guys played very hard. There were some missed tackles. I want to say we had 16 – we want single digit missed tackles, and Shazier was a culprit.”
On special teams, the player of the week was Philly Brown, while Jamal Marcus also earned notice from the coach for his efforts covering kicks.